Prospects for Talks on Mideast Peace Deal

(New York Times) Isabel Kershner - Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama expressed hopes of an imminent resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and of achieving a peace deal. However, Palestinian officials and analysts suggest that the current proximity talks have merely accentuated the deep and abiding differences between the sides. Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, recently raised a new bar for the start of direct talks. Alongside the longstanding demand for a complete freeze in settlement building, including in East Jerusalem, Erekat said talks should start from the point at which the last direct negotiations with the previous Israeli government left off in December 2008. He also said that Netanyahu should state his readiness to recognize a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines. The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs recently published a study seeking to identify Israel's minimum security requirements, especially in light of the thousands of rockets that landed in its territory after its withdrawals from Gaza and Lebanon. Moshe Yaalon, a former army chief of staff and now a vice prime minister, described the study as a "corrective" to the notion that peace requires Israel to withdraw to the "perilous" 1967 lines, denying Israel strategic depth against rocket and other attacks. Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center and a former foreign policy adviser to Netanyahu, said the new approach was not about percentage points of land swaps. "Let's start with security and then put in diplomacy," Gold said. Yaalon and other authors invoked the principles of the Allon Plan, an Israeli proposal from the late 1960s that envisioned Israel's maintaining control of the Jordan Valley, on the eastern border with Jordan, and other strategically significant chunks of the West Bank.

2010-07-15 09:03:58

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